This has turned into a hot potato kind of issue. On the surface, this should be a great thing for the community. With each Councillor having a budget of $50,000 per year to provide economic assistance to small groups and organizations wishing to initiate events or activities that will increase the quality of life and character of the community, it is wonderful.

I would love to be able to support 50 or more initiatives each year. It would allow me to get more involved with the grassroots elements of my Ward and plant the seeds for so much good.

Some critics are being very vocal about the need to abolosh the funds because it has become "slush money" used by Councillors to raise their profile in the community and get re-elected. The expenses that are made under the Healthy Community Initiatives Fund for the past four years can be found at the following link, so everything is transparent. Sure, there are people who would have spent the money differently, but that is no reason to accuse Councillors of doing anything inappropraite with the money. No one has been found to be doing anything wrong that I know of. And so what if other Cities do not have this policy. Just because all of your friends are jumping off a bridge, does that mean you have to as well? I have not heard one solid argument that would justify the claim that the HCI Fund is anything but positive for the Ward if the Councillor truly gets to know his Ward and gets involved with what is going on.

Some candidates are publically stating that they want to see the fund abolished and are stating that they will vote to rescind the policy. Others are saying that they want the funds to be taken out of the hands of Councillors and administered by City Staff. Others are saying that the funds should be distributed by the Community Action Networks in conjunction with City Staff. Others are calling this a "slush fund" used only to help Councillors get re-elected.

 I do not think it is a responsible position for any candidate to claim that they are in favour of outright abolishing to the HCI Fund. This is something that has to be discussed and debated upon rationally and objectively following the election while exploring both the pros and cons of the program. And if the main argument is that Councillors cannot be trusted to spend the money fairly and transparently, then what is that saying about the quality of Councillor who has been elected?

The HCI Fund can really help Ward 5 and I intend to use it effectively. I am not going to stand up and tell everyone that I cannot be fair, transparent and honest with this money. This is $50,000 per year that can be used directly to help local groups and organizations. I think the most responsible position is to state that it is something that will be examined carefully by the next City Council before a decision is made.

I definitely will not ever say that I want the responsibility for distributing the Healthy Community Initiatives Funds to be given to anyone else. If the HCI Fund remains, then I, as the elected representative of Ward 5 should be the one who meets with the groups and organizations in my Ward to provide small grants to help kick-start "new initiatives" or to help a group cover the start-up costs for something that is going to benefit my community.

I will certainly meet with the VECAN to listen to their ideas and suggestions and most definitely will help with new initiatives that they put forward or that come from the citizens living in the community. But I will not simply turn the responsibility for distribution to the CAN since they will soon be caught in the same spiderweb that current Councillors are in. They are volunteers and if they decide to put money towards a project you can be sure they will face criticism from others who do not receive the money. To turn the responsibility over to the CAN and/or City Staff is "irresponsible" and any candidate who takes that position should be questioned as to why he feels he will not be able to be honest and fair with the distribution of a mere $50,000 a year? If he is going to have trouble justifying the spending of $50,000 a year in the best interestes the Ward 5, then how can he be trusted to make good decisions about the full budget of $500 million?

I hope the HCIF remains available. As I said, if I wanted to give out $1000 to 50 different projects, it would mean that I would be supporting one new initiative each week. Imagine what I could do for my Ward with this kind of support.

Bottom line is that I have confidence that I will be able to spend the $50,000 on Healthy Community Initiatives that will truly benefit Ward 5. I have the confidence that I am familiar with my community and will have no trouble finding out where these funds can be put to the best use and how to distribute them fairly and with transparency. I do not need to be told by City Staff where I should be spending the funds. I know my Ward much better than the City Staff.


If it ends up being decided to scrap the fund, then I will be proposing that City Council devote the entire amount of the Healthy Community Initiative Funds towards a full scale $6 million upgrade of all of the neighbourhood playgrounds located throughout the City of Greater Sudbury. By using the $600,000 per year that has already been established as part of the budget, the City would be able to borrow the funds needed to complete all of the improvements by the end of 2016 and pay off the entire loan within the next ten years.  No additional tax money would be required to complete this initiative and if the City continues to devote the normal amount of annual capital allocation there should be plenty of money available to completely renew all of our playgrounds and ensure that they meet the regulations of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

According to the Greater Sudbury Parks, Open Space and Leisure Master Plan which was presented to Council in June 2014, many of the City’s playgrounds contain outdated and outmoded play equipment, surface treatments, and pathways. The review leading up to the final report demonstrated that 79% of the people surveyed expressed considerable interest in improving and/or expanding the level of service at playgrounds.

With a total of 179 playgrounds located throughout the City of Greater Sudbury this amount of funding would allow the City to create a comprehensive, city-wide strategy that would allow us to ensure that fully equipped accessible playgrounds are located within an 800 meter radius of every urban residential neighbourhood without crossing a major arterial road or physical barrier, which is the ultimate goal of the Master Plan.

I feel that this would be a good use for the Healthy Community Initiative Fund since it would rejuvenate the neighbourhood playground associations and would provide young children the kind of play and physical education facilities that would be in the best interests of the entire family. This would enable us to demonstrate to all newcomers and people wishing to locate in the Greater Sudbury Area that we truly are family-focussed and community minded.



Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved
Valley East Today is published by
Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc.